Republican News

Republican News

Sep 23 2011

Murkowski: Solyndra Bankruptcy Casts Shadow on Pending Loan Guarantees

Top Energy Committee Republican Urges Energy Secretary to Correct Program’s Flaws

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, yesterday sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu urging him to correct any shortcomings in the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program under the 2009 stimulus bill before taxpayers are asked to shoulder additional risk. The Department of Energy (DOE) may issue up to $9.2 billion in new loan guarantees under the temporary Section 1705 loan guarantee program in the next week.
 
“In these critical days, as the cabinet officer responsible for approving obligations entered into with respect to these transactions, I ask you to do your utmost to avoid the mistakes that appear to have been committed with respect to Solyndra LLC, the first-ever recipient of a DOE loan guarantee,” Murkowski wrote in the letter. “Although I believe there is value in DOE’s loan program, the circumstances surrounding Solyndra’s bankruptcy filing have raised questions about the program as a whole.”
 
Murkowski is the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has oversight over DOE and the Loan Programs Office. In her letter, Murkowski requests Secretary Chu respond as soon as possible to her request. 
 
The full letter is below:
 
Dear Secretary Chu:
 
Since 2009, the Department of Energy (DOE), through its Loan Programs Office (LPO), has issued nearly $9.6 billion in loan guarantees under Section 406 of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” (ARRA).  I understand that the LPO may close on up to another $9.2 billion in guaranteed borrowing this month.  Indeed, over the next nine days, as the ARRA deadline nears and many of these financing transactions are closed, the United States will take on very significant obligations under this program.  
 
In these critical days, as the Cabinet Officer responsible for approving obligations entered into with respect to these transactions, I ask you to do your utmost to avoid the mistakes that appear to have been committed with respect to Solyndra LLC, the first-ever recipient of a DOE loan guarantee.  Although I believe there is value in DOE’s loan program, the circumstances surrounding Solyndra’s bankruptcy filing have raised questions about the program as a whole.  
 
I ask for your assurance that you have identified and corrected any systemic flaws in the administration of your agency’s loan guarantee and direct loan programs.  In particular, I request your continued personal involvement to ensure that the LPO complies with the terms and conditions established in Section 1702 of the “Energy Policy Act of 2005.”  I also ask what immediate steps – prior to the issuance of additional loan guarantees – you are taking to ensure that taxpayers are more effectively protected.  Finally, I request that you provide your response as soon as possible. 
 
As the committee of jurisdiction, it is vitally important that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee conduct oversight on this matter, and I have asked Chairman Bingaman to schedule a hearing on DOE’s loan programs as soon as possible.
 
Thank you for your consideration. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Lisa A. Murkowski
 
###
 
For further information, please contact Robert Dillon at 202.224.6977 or Robert_dillon@energy.senate.gov or Megan Hermann at 202.224.7875 or Megan_Hermann@energy.senate.gov.